It’s been awhile since I posted something personal, but I’m having a hard time getting past this and a friend suggested I write about it to you. Writing is cathartic, and anyway, I want you to know me for who I am and this is part of who I am.
A month ago my Grandpa died. Last weekend, we celebrated his life together in Oregon in the small town where he spent his whole life. It was a wonderful, whirl-wind weekend where we shared stories of his life, cried, looked at pictures, laughed together, and ate way too many peanut M&Ms. I cried plenty at the funeral and a few times after, and thought the worst of the grieving was over. I now know it had only begun.
Saying goodbye is always hard. He was an incredible man for many reasons, but most importantly because his family was the pride and joy of his life. I can still see the way he walked with a little jig when he got excited, the mischievous look on his face when he gave us candy behind Mom’s back, the way he patted my arm with a tear on his cheek the last time I saw him. He knew the end was coming, and he made sure I knew how much he loved me, the children, and my husband.
Gosh, I miss that man.
The memorial service made me think a lot about the kind of woman I want to be and what kind of legacy I want to leave behind. Someone at the service told us funerals are often boring, but his wasn’t because he lived such a good life. Good lives are interesting to remember.
My children adored Papa Don, but Hudson is likely the only one who will remember him much at all. You can imagine how sad this makes me. It’s strange to think that a man who is so significant in my life–a pillar who helped shape who I came to be–won’t be a part of my children’s lives. Quite simply, I can’t believe he’s gone.
So, I wrote out all the things I want my children to know about him when they are older, and stood up before hundreds of people at the service to read them out loud. My reading was punctuated by lots of my own tears, some laughter, and the occasional gasp when I realized afresh that he was gone.
I know you didn’t know him, but maybe you will write your own list after reading mine. Or maybe this will make you, like me, think about what kind of life you want to lead and the legacy you want to leave behind. I hope you enjoy it even though he wasn’t your Grandpa.
Kids, I don’t know if you remember your Great Grandpa Don, but he was a pretty amazing man. When I was little he used to hold me in his arms, or sit me on his lap and call me “Granddaughter.” I don’t know why I loved that so much, but I did. He just had a way.
Grandpa Don loved mischief. When the women told him not to get us wound up, he would feed us sweets secretly in the other room. He kept peanut M&Ms in a tin by his chair and used to shake the tin when he wanted us to come running. We always did! Grandpa Don’s peanut M&Ms always tasted better than any other kind. They were secret, and not allowed, and special because he refilled the tin just for us. To this day peanut M&Ms are my favorite candy.
Grandpa Don had a great way of walking. I can still see it so clearly as he used to walk his property, or the forest when we camped. He loved the outdoors, he loved his dogs, and he loved hunting. I think he just loved to be out in nature, and I agree with him there.
Grandpa Don was a great storyteller—one of the best! He could talk his way into anything. He taught me that confidence is the key to many successes in life. If you think you can do something, then others will believe you! I always admired Grandpa’s audacity, his courage, and the way he wasn’t afraid to go get what he wanted.
Kids, I also want you to know that Papa Don loved you very much. You were his legacy. By the time you were born he knew the key to a happy life: love your family and do what you love. He valued freedom, courage, determination, and faithfulness. As his descendants, you are all responsible for passing down that same legacy.
Others knew him as Don but I called him Grandpa. He was known for his tenacity, determination, fierce love for his family, and a magnetic personality. He is sorely, deeply, missed.
I pray God blesses YOU today, friends. Thank you for coming and reading my story. Life is short, and this week I’ve been doing my best to cherish it with my sweet children. More sewing-related posts to come next week. Blessings to all of you!
|My grandparents, married in 1951|